Marvel Studios, Save Spider-Man!

Typically, Spider-Man would be the one doing the saving, but even Spidey is powerless against studio executives who don’t have any real understanding of what they’re doing.

And what many commenters–I mean you, AMC Movie Talk in particular–seem to be missing about the mess that’s stemmed from the Sony email dump is not that the executives involved are throwing ideas agains to wall to see what sticks (pardon the pun), it’s that the ideas that they are considering are really, really bad.

For instance, a standalone movie feature Aunt May?  As a spy?

Believe it or not, I have nothing against her.  As a supporting character she’s pretty interesting, though the problem is that Sony hasn’t even properly developed Spider-Man at this point, and they’re not only talking about spin-offs, but they’re considering a movie based on a character that was never designed to headline in the first place (which isn’t to say that there weren’t comics that featured Aunt May, but despite having not read any I feel relatively safe in saying that they would’ve come relatively late in the cycle).

After all, the movie and the comic are called “The Amazing Spider-Man,” not “The Amazing Aunt May” for a reason.

Is there a possibility that saner heads will prevail, and Sony will finally be able to produce a Spider-Man movie worthy of the name?  Perhaps, but based upon their most recent output, I am just not seeing it.

People criticize–in most instances quite justifiably–Joel Schumacher and his excesses on the Batman films (Bat-nipples, and shots showing the Bat-posterior in all its glory) though when you think about it Schumacher was in his own way paying homage to the comics.  Sure, it was garish, silly (in a very bad way), and campy, but you could see that there was respect for the characters as well.

I get the feeling that Marc Webb is following a similar path (minus the overtly blatant homosexual references) because he–as well as writers like Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci–don’t actually understand the character.

When you combine this lack of understanding with studio interference and budgets way larger than they should be, then the recipe is exactly what we’re seeing unfold a Sony.

Where we can witness a  studio doing the seemingly impossible, taking a comic character loved the world over and ending up with a box-office flop.

 

 

Blackhat – Trailer

Isn’t it remarkable what a few days can bring?  A few weeks ago, a thriller like Michael Mann‘s Blackhat–a movie that revolves around about Nicholas Hathaway (Chris Hemsworth) a cyber criminal released from prison to counter the threat of a cyber terrorist with the ability to bring a nation to its collective knees–would probably have been an interesting diversion and little else, till Sony Pictures was hacked and thousands of no longer private emails and social security numbers were released.

Imagine how devastating such an attack could potentially be if it were aimed at our infrastructure instead, which we hopefully won’t have to discover any time soon.

Though what’s sort of interesting in reference to the trailer is that the unseen terrorist sounds strangely like Trevor Slattery/faux Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) from Iron Man 3, which makes me wonder if this is some sort of unofficial sequel (It’s not, but the idea that Mann might be in the superhero business makes it more than worth the scorn such a comment might traditionally elicit).

Blackhat isn’t the type of movie that I would traditionally see, but I have to admit that I am a bit curious.

Don’t Blink – Review

Don't Blink movie poster

“”Don’t Blink” is a pretty interesting twist on an alien invasion story.”

Travis OatesDon’t Blink could have been one of the better horror films to come along in quite awhile, if not for one pretty significant problem, which I will go into in a moment.

Though the issue isn’t that it’s a bit of a slow burn, and takes its time getting to where it’s trying to go.  It’s worth mentioning that there’s little in the way of gore, though that means that the story has to hold up even more than is traditionally the case, because there little to distract you from what’s going on.

What helps immensely is that Don’t Blink is a good looking movie.  Too many lower budget movies–I don’t know how much it cost, but it couldn’t be that expensive–often look like they save money by skimping on things like lighting, which is never a good move.  Luckily that’s not the path taken in this instance, because the cinematography by Jayson Crothers is really good and makes things look more expensive and rich than they probably are.

Which leads to that problem that I alluded to earlier, which unfortunately is related to the story.  I don’t mean that it’s not well-written, though it does feel underwritten, and the characters being little more than sketches, as opposed to fully fleshed-out.

Remember that I mentioned that Don’t Blink was an alien invasion movie?  I honestly think it is, but you’re given so little information–other than people vanishing mysteriously and unexpectedly–that you have no idea why anything is happening.

For awhile it’s interesting to watch as things unfold, but soon you’re left wondering what’s the point and begin to come up with theories of your own, such as maybe it’s a people-eating house in the vein of Burnt Offerings?  Or maybe it’s like Poltergeist, and restless spirits are running amok?  That being said, it’s probably aliens, which I am reasonably sure of because of a cameo by a certain Doctor who goes all MIB on us (which he’s actually listed as in the credits).  The thing is, should anyone have to wait till the last five or ten minutes of a movie to hopefully learn what’s been driving the action for the past hour or so?

I don’t think so.  This lack of information doesn’t ruin the movie though in hindsight it bothers me a bit that the filmmakers didn’t seem to buy into their own central conceit.

Don’t Blink is currently on Netflix, by way of IFC Midnight (where some pretty interesting horror is coming from, it’s worth mentioning).

The Ugly Side Of Fandom

If you’ve seen videos of cosplay or the various ‘Cons’ the first thing you notice is that they feature all sorts of quirky, colorful (and often brilliant) costumes, which is why it’s understandable if you thought that that was what comic geek culture was all about (besides costumes and the–virtual–worship of certain movies and comic characters).

And for the most part, you’d be right, though there are instances when a comic character that began “life” as a white person, and is reinterpreted as a person of color in the movies (Oddly, when a male character was reinterpreted as female, in the case of 2004 reboot of Battlestar Galactica, when Starbuck was underwent gender reassignment, fans only offered token resistance while most were relatively sanguine about it) when you often see the ugly side of fandom.

Before I begin, you’ll noticed that I deliberately don’t use the term “race” because, besides being a misnomer, it has always bothered me because white people are genetically identical to black people, yellow people, beige people, and so on.

I bring this up because the reaction to John Boyega, dressed as a stormtrooper in the beginning of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer, has been pretty distressing for some members of the fan community.

Comic book fans tend to be sticklers for detail, which to a degree I can understand. If someone has been following a character for the better part of their lives, it probably feels amazing to see the character on the big screen; till that is, they see that the character has been interpreted in a manner opposite to what they have known and anticipated.

That being said, it feels that whenever an actor of color is cast in a prominent role in a comic book movie, some in the fan community lose all sense of propriety, and logic goes out the window.

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‘Da Sweet Blood Of Jesus’ Trailer

I might have to turn in my African-American membership card after I admit this, but I have never been a huge fan of Spike Lee’s films.  I often admire what I assume are his goals when making them, but in my eyes the final execution always left something to be desired because (it felt to me) that he brought a self-indulgence to most of his projects that distracted from the project itself.

This is why movies like his remake of Oldboy, Inside Man and to a lesser extent, Clockers, are three of my favorite movies of his.  In the three aforementioned films, his stylistic flourishes (his signature move would typically have a person on a dolly moving through a scene as if on rails–which in a sense they were–always felt dream-like and fantastical to me) were minimal.

But his confrontational style and the way he did what he did, and damn anyone who didn’t like it?  That was awesome.

His most recent film, the Kickstarter-financed, Da Sweet Blood Of Jesus, seems to play with themes and ideas most often seen in vampire movies and looks to be typically Spike Lee (by which I mean self-indulgent and meandering) though I am curious what a Lee-directed vampire movie would look like.

‘Antboy’ Review

Antsy movie poster

“Entertaining for children, and (probably) mildly interesting for adults.”

Antboy, a film by Danish director Ask Hasselbalch, is a decent enough movie about a little boy named Pelie (Oscar Dietz) who’s bitten by an scientifically-enhanced ant, and gains certain insect-like abilities, like climbing walls, enhanced strength and acidic urine (?).

The synopsis above probably sounds a bit familiar–except the acidic urine; I have no idea where they got that from–because it’s essentially the story of Spider-Man, though luckily the movie plays more as a love letter to superhero movies than any sort of (blatantly obvious) attempt at perjury.

In fact, when the movie is caught in the trappings of genre it’s at its most interesting, though there’s a fly in the ointment (see what I did there?).

And that’s that the movie is dubbed into English (from Dutch).  The dubbing isn’t terribly done, which ironically makes it worse because when characters talk, it’s sort of, but not quite, in sync with the way their lips move.

It’s oddly distracting and took me out of the movie virtually anytime someone spoke, which was quite often.  In fact, if it were released in Dutch with English subtitles I suspect that it would have been a much more enjoyable experience (you can opt-in for subtitles on Netflix, though I don’t know if that means subtitles with an English or Dutch vocal).

Though if such things don’t bother you, then check out Antboy.  It’s a cute movie with a few moral lessons that it doesn’t hammer you over the head with, and should definitely appeal to younger children.

Antboy is currently on Netflix.

Mea Culpa: The ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Edition

I admit it, I shat the bed, figuratively speaking.  When I saw the trailer below, I assumed that it was for J.J. Abrams’ upcoming Star Wars sequel, The Force Awakens, and should have known better.

Why?  Because a huge clue was staring me right in the face the entire time, which I have posted just below.

Bat Robot logo

Bad Robot logo

For those who are unaware, Bad Robot is the production company owned by Abrams (Mutant Enemy is owned by Joss Whedon, which is why you see it credited at the beginning of Marvel’s Agent’s Of S.H.I.E.L.D.).

For it to appear on the latest Star Wars trailer would mean that mean that Disney and Lucasfilm were sharing the wealth, so to speak, with Bad Robot.

Which is a relatively stupid idea, if you give it any sort of thought because Disney just finished paying $4 billion for Lucasfilm and the last thing they would do is to share any potential profits with Bad Robot–which isn’t to imply that Abrams isn’t making a buttload of money from directing it, because he probably is.

I have posted the actual trailer below (The Force Awakens will always sound to me like the title of a movie on Lifetime, mainly because there’s something oddly feminine about it) and it’s pretty good, though not quite as dynamic as the fake.